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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Default Should I install a hot water heater?

    So I just moved into a new house full of projects, and one I want to tackle is to install a hot water heater.

    Right now there is no hot water heater, and water is heated through an oil-fired boiler, which drives both the 2-zone heating system and the HW for the house.

    We only get a few minutes of inconsistent hot water for the house, so I wanted to install a hot water heater.

    I called a few plumbers to get quotes, and everyone is telling me different things - some say go with a aqua booster, some say a tankless electric, and some say an indirect HW heater. I have been looking at the GE hybrid tank models, and I think I want to install one of these. So my questions are:

    - What kind of HW heater should I install, if I even should?
    - Should I put it in line after the boiler, so its fed hot water and contributes to the heating system, or should i put it as an indirect?
    - are hybrid heaters the best choice? its a basement with enough square footage to be efficient.
    - for hybrid water heaters, how much condensate water do they drop - like do i need to run a drain line, or can i use a bucket i empty every once in a while?

    Any guidance is appreciated - thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Maryland
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    Default Re: Should I install a hot water heater?

    It seems to me you should find out why the boiler isn't doing its job. I don't know much about boilers, but that would be where I would start. It would also be a good time for a tech to check out the heating system.

  3. #3
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    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Should I install a hot water heater?

    Your boiler should be heating hot water in a separate storage tank. If not, then it is using the boiler as a "tankless" water heater which I don't think is a good idea. An even worse idea is an electric tankless hot water heater. These should be banned from the market place as excessive energy wasters.

    You need to have your system checked first by a technician trained on that system. You should probably contact either the original installer or another dealer/installer for that system. Get a quote to fix. If the quote is much over $600, then it might be cheaper to get an electric water heater installed in line, feed by the boiler.

    If you go the electric water heater route, make sure you get a premium high efficient unit. Don't let them put in a "contractor grade" or bottom line model.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    78

    Default Re: Should I install a hot water heater?

    IfItAin'tBroke:

    I strongly encourage you to take the advice of those technicians you have had over the house & recommended the INDIRECT HOT WATER HEATER.

    This is so much of a standard solution to those like yourself that have a hot water boiler for heating, that they are referred to as a "boiler mate", as it should be, since they complement the boiler in so many ways.

    The indirect type of HWH is simply a (usually) 40 gallon water tank with a large coiled copper tube running down the middle of the tank---other models have a "tank within a tank" that performs the same function.

    The indirect HWH is connected to the boiler by simply installing another zone, and an automatic thermostat on the indirect HWH "calls for heat" from the boiler whenever the set water temp falls below a certain value (usually about 140 degrees); thus, on a call for hot water heat, the boiler is kicked on thru a zone valve or circulator and the hot boiler water flowing down the center coil of the indirect HWH heats the 40 gallons of tap water standing in the indirect tank to the needed temperature; the tap water inside the tank is always isolated from the circulating boiler water so that the hot water coming out of the taps is fresh and clean.

    Since the indirect tank is highly insulated, this is a very efficient, money-saving way to supply the house with tap water for showers, baths, dishwashers, clothes washer, etc.---you'll get all the hot tap water you need, at the desired temperature, and you'll never run out of hot water!

    Google Amtrol Boiler Mate (coil type) for an entry-level model that is recommended for approx $1k installed; or Triangle Tube Phase III stainless steel tank within a tank for approx $2k installed; or HTP Super Stor (stainless tank) or TFI Everhot (stainless tank).

    Also Google "hot water peak usage for a family of 4" (or number in your family) to determine what size indirect HWH tank you need---most households do well with a 40 gallon size tank.


    What you have now is what's known as a "tankless coil" inside the boiler, which is merely approx. 10 to 15' of coiled 1/2" copper tubing, which is a very inadequate way of heating a small amount of hot tap water (perhaps only a gallon or so)---this is clearly inadequate except perhaps for a family of one, and even there will not be enough for a clothes washer or dishwasher, or even a long shower.

    An Indirect HWH does cost between $1k to $2k to have installed, but this is a one-shot expense that will last you for decades---the indirect HWH has no moving parts, and no burner or coil to eventually burn out---it is known as a "heat exchanger", using the hot water pumped in from the boiler; thus these units have a track record of lasting 20 or 30 years without breaking down.
    Last edited by von_steuben; 10-19-2011 at 01:53 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Default Re: Should I install a hot water heater?

    Thanks so much! This is very, very helpful knowledge.

  6. #6
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    May 2008
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    Default Re: Should I install a hot water heater?

    I can't imagine why you'd need a hot water heater. If the water is already hot, why would you need to heat it?

    Now a cold water heater I could understand.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Should I install a hot water heater?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fencepost View Post
    I can't imagine why you'd need a hot water heater. If the water is already hot, why would you need to heat it?

    Now a cold water heater I could understand.

    Yes Fence, this is a common misuse of the English language. The appliance is a "Water Heater". It's not a "Hot Water Heater", because hot water doesn't need heating.

    I learned that in second grade.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Should I install a hot water heater?

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    Yes Fence, this is a common misuse of the English language. The appliance is a "Water Heater". It's not a "Hot Water Heater", because hot water doesn't need heating.

    I learned that in second grade.
    It does if it's not Hot enough

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Should I install a hot water heater?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sten View Post
    It does if it's not Hot enough
    But then wouldn't it be a warm water heater?
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  10. #10
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    Jul 2009
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    Default Re: Should I install a hot water heater?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fencepost View Post
    But then wouldn't it be a warm water heater?
    Your right Fencepost, now that you mention it I think there all warm water heaters as the temp control doesn't kick the heater on when the water gets cold but when it's not hot enough or warm.

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